Photography By: Josie Gonzales
Photography By: Josie Gonzales

We Learned Exactly “How to” Hot Pot at Tabu Shabu in San Diego and We Loved It

Dip and Dine at San Diego’s Newest Hot Pot Experience

There’s a first time for everything—and no wrong way to do it when you dip and dine at Tabu Shabu, San Diego’s newest Japanese hot pot destination. Traditional Japanese cuisine combines seamlessly with a modern atmosphere alongside savory flavors, premium ingredients and homemade sauces. Though it’s a true DIY experience, your server’s pairing recommendations and cooking expertise is available at every turn. Ingredients, cookware and a stovetop are provided, while the rhythm, arrangement and creativity is all up to you. Here’s an inside look at Tabu Shabu’s authentic hot pot experience, and why it should be your next dining destination. Hot Pot Tabu Shabu

From the moment you walk through the doors, you immediately become blissfully aware that your dining experience won’t be your standard eat-and-run. With social bar seating, a buzzing atmosphere and a knowledgeable wait staff encouraging you to dig in and play with your food, it’s a place to think outside of the box—or bowl, rather. 

You’ll set the stovetop with several selections: a variety of broth, veggies, noodles, rice and protein choices. Begin with the broth—a savory, spicy or sweet base presented in a large hot pot. Your server will crank up the stove to the ideal temperature, get the broth bubbling and you’ll add your selection of fresh vegetables—a mix of shiitake mushrooms, broccoli, tofu and baby bok choy to name a few. Plated with the vegetables are your noodles of choice (udon, shirataki or kale ramen noodles). Patience is key as you wait for your veggies to soak in the maximum amount of flavor. 

After they’ve been cooked to your liking, you’re ready to add in your noodles and meats. Whether you’ve chosen a thin-sliced prime ribeye cut or a sashimi-grade salmon, they will all perfectly cook up in about two minutes’ time—along with your noodles. Toss ‘em in all at once or meticulously one-by-one, wait a few minutes until cooked through and violà! You’ve just conquered your very first Japanese hot pot experience. Now, it’s time to eat. 

The way you plate it is up to you: keep everything sectioned and separate, mix it all up on your plate or toss everything back into the hot pot for a soup-style dish. 

EXP 10/10

Hot Pot Tabu Shabu

Meet the Owner

After being introduced to shabu shabu with his family when he was 5 years old, owner Jeff Chon grew up feeling that mainstream dining was missing this traditional Japanese experience. “I felt it was so underappreciated for its delicious simplicity yet was not simple enough to those who weren’t introduced to it.” While successfully operating other restaurants at the time, Chon decided to open up the first Tabu Shabu in Costa Mesa with the help of childhood friends. It was made to appeal to the masses: those who have their hot pot down to a science and those who have never even heard of the shabu shabu in all its glory. At Tabu Shabu, all can feel at home to cook, create and consume, whether it’s trial number one or 100.


Tabu Shabu
3647 30th St
San Diego, CA 92104

Other Locations: Carlsbad, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Orange, Thousand Oaks

About the author

Jaclyn is a sunshine chasing San Diego native with an extensive writing background. When she isn’t word-smithing, you can find her playing beach volleyball, skating the boardwalk, or on a rooftop enjoying a drink in the sunshine with her pals.

Josie Gonzales studied Art History and Photography at University of San Diego. She works as a freelance photographer covering fashion shows, theatre, weddings and other events.


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